PUPILS from seven Trinidad primary schools played under the bright lights of the Central Bank Auditorium, Port of Spain stage as the NGC Bocas Lit Fest showcased young writing and performance in Page to Stage. The showcase featured small troupes from the schools enacting stories written by young people and published by Bocas.
Bocas founder and managing director Marina Salandy-Brown said in her remarks at the show on November 15 that the festival had a children’s component from its inception because children are the future of TT. The plays were the product of a September workshop Bocas held at its Writing Centre with the participation of drama teachers and the Ministry of Education.
Curriculum co-ordinator with responsibility for visual and the performing arts (VAPA) Marcelline Peters, during her remarks, said the ministry wanted children writing, using song, dance and drama in the classroom. “This is great!” she said. Speaking during the intermission, Peters said all the techniques used and demonstrated in the showcase were part of the VAPA primary school curriculum.
The plays included santimanitay singing and Shadow's calypso, stickfighting, drumming, jab molassies, and plenty of imagination. A girl used a steering wheel cover to signify she played a maxi taxi driver and her bus; a shy corbeau flapped poly-cotton wings; and a cardboard frame became a TV broadcast a plucky young fry watched with his fish dad in their underwater home.
President Paula-Mae Weekes, in a note sent to the children and read at the event, urged the children “to nurture [their] appreciation for the arts, so that our rich culture can be secure for generations to come.”
Derron Sandy, a spoken word artist and artistic director of the 2 Cents Movement, emceed the show, which began with Trinity Junior School performing Hyarima’s Last Feast.
Moulton Hall Primary followed with Adventures in the Cocoa Estate; Richmond Street Boys’ AC staged Adventures of a Baby Turtle; Bethlehem Girls’ RC, in a piece voiced off by master pierrot grenade Felix Edinborough, played Lost in J'Ouvert.
St Margaret’s Boys’ AC performed George the Ferryman and Fluffy; Sacred Heart Boys’ RC’s piece was How the Kingfish got its Name; and La Brea RC ended the show with How Kevon and Aurora won the Poetry Competition.
Two schools, Lambeau AC Primary and San Fernando Girls’ Government, were unable to attend the showcase because of inter-island transportation trouble and bad weather, respectively, director of the Children’s Festival Danielle Delon said.
Themes in the plays included local history, courage, standing up to bullies and protecting the environment. Traditional Carnival and folklore characters and elements of the natural world abounded in the children’s portrayals.
Four theatre experts adjudicated the showcase and will give their remarks to the children in a ceremony at next year’s Bocas, Delon said during the vote of thanks.
The head adjudicator was UTT Assistant Professor at the Academy for the Performing Arts Marvin Ishmael; the others were actor Cecilia Salazar, playwright Safa Niamat-Ali and writer/actor/director/producer Lylah Persad.